Tight in the Currie Cup … Again!

Both WP and the Bulls withstood extreme character tests to take their spot at the top of the log, and remain the only unbeaten teams in the tournament.

In a thrilling weekend of action, the Sharks produced a spirited performance against the Lions at Kings Park for an 8 point victory, the Bulls ground out a 6 point win against Griquas in a penalty-riddled clash at Loftus, while WP edged Free State by a point in Cape Town.

Sharks 33-25 Lions

Early penalties for Elton Jantjies and Butch James allowed both teams to get on the scoreboard in the first 10 minutes. But two tries in 9 minutes by Lions wing Anthony Volmink, handed them an encouraging lead heading into the second quarter. The Sharks strong pack, however, asserted their authority, which set up flank Brynard Stander and centre Heimar Williams to cross the tryline. This combined with another penalty by James handed the home team a 20-17 half time lead.

The Lions edged ahead eight minutes into the second half with flank Jaco Kriel dotting down their third try. But their luck turned soon after as Lions fullback Marnitz Boshoff and replacement back Chrysander Botha were denied tries due to infringements in the build-up. In stark contrast the Sharks got the rub of the green with new recruit SP Marais scoring their third try from an intercept, while James and Fred Zeilinga kept the scoreboard ticking with goal kicks, to earn their victory.

Sharks 33 (20) – Tries: Brynard Stander, Heimar Williams, SP Marais. Conversions: Butch James (2), Fred Zeilinga. Penalties: Butch James (3), Fred Zeilinga.

Lions 25 (17) – Tries: Anthony Volmink (2), Jaco Kriel. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalties: Elton Jantjies (2).


Blue Bulls 15-9 Griquas

The clash in Pretoria proved to be a stop-start affair with penalties conceded by both teams throughout the match cancelling out any momentum they gained on attack. The breakdowns, in particular, proved to be problematic for both teams, as it marked a penalty hotspot for Griquas, while the Bulls conceded several turnovers. The Bulls’ scrums, last week so good against WP at Newlands, were an area of concern as the team battled to come to grips with the Griquas pack, who seem to have taken to the new laws well.

Griquas had two shots at goal in quick succession in the first 10 minutes, but wing Nico Scheepers missed, which resulted in a change of kickers early on for the Kimberley team. Bulls flyhalf Tony Jantjies had the first say as he kicked his team into a 3-0 lead and slotted over another on the stroke of half time to match Francois Brummer’s tally of two.

Bulls fullback Jurgen Visser, however, took over the kicking duties minutes into the second half and slotted over three of his four attempts, while Brummer had only one shot in the second half, which handed the home team a 15-9 victory.

Blue Bulls 15 (6) – Penalties:  Jurgen Visser (3), Tony Jantjies (2).

Griquas 9 (6) – Penalties: Francois Brummer (3).


Western Province 15-14 Free State

In Cape Town the Cheetahs started the match on fire as flyhalf Elgar Watts and wing Riaan Smit ran in tries in the first 16 minutes for a 14-0 lead. This convincing start by the visitors immediately pumped the necessary urgency in the home team’s game. They bounced back strongly with flyhalf Gary van Aswegen slotting over a penalty and converting a try by Michael Rhodes two minutes later to reduce the gap to 4 points.

The second half proved to be epic as the teams did not give an inch on defence. Smit had an opportunity to extend his team’s lead to 7 points, but he pushed a penalty wide leaving the score at 14-10 with 14 minutes to go. WP’s determined efforts on attack, however, paid off in the 75th minute as inspirational captain Deon Fourie crossed the chalk via … you guessed it, a driving maul from a lineout, for the winning try.

Western Province 15 (10) – Tries: Deon Fourie, Michael Rhodes. Conversion: Gary van Aswegen. Penalty: Gary van Aswegen.

Free State 14 (14) – Tries: Elgar Watts, Riaan Smit. Conversions: Elgar Watts, Riaan Smit.